As gambling addiction has gained legitimacy in recent years, treatment centers have started treating addiction to cryptocurrency trading similarly.
Once only a peripheral perspective, psychiatrists have recently taken to validating addictive disorders involving behaviors. These include “gambling disorder” being officially recognized as a behavioral addiction by the U.S. medical community over the past decade, and the latest edition of the American Psychiatric Association manual highlighting excessive preoccupation with video games.
Now, a number of mental-health professionals are considering trading cryptocurrencies akin to says online therapist Dylan Kerr, who has treated about 15 self-professed crypto addicts. Trading crypto is “seemingly never-ending, and it demands your attention,’’ Kerr says. “If you take your eyes off the prize, you could miss out on massive opportunities and incur massive penalties.”. “It’s very similar to being at a roulette table,”
Treating crypto trading addiction
However, a few things set cryptocurrencies apart, which currently makes them more insidious. Despite debuting over 14 years ago, cryptocurrencies are still perceived as quite new, giving them an air of novelty.
As a relatively new asset class, cryptocurrencies also remain highly volatile. Trading these remarkable swings can give investors a high similar to cocaine, as the same reward circuits govern both processes. One leading psychiatrist, Thilo Beck, relates how compulsive crypto-traders are merely responding to their brain’s reward mechanisms. “You do it to get the feeling, the rush,” Beck says. “And you have to repeat it again and again, to get more of the rush.”
Yet, in spite of the novelty and volatility, established cryptocurrencies are now being treated as legitimate assets, making it easier for traders to rationalize what are generally more speculative positions. Jan Gerber, who runs the luxury Paracelsus Recovery private clinic, admits that many people perceive crypto-trading as investing, conferring it a form of respectability. The $90,000 also handles other unorthodox behavioral addictions, yet Gerber says inquiries about crypto issues have risen 300% between 2018 and 2021.
Pursuing healthier fulfillment
Meanwhile, Castle Craig in Scotland has treated over 100 people with cryptocurrency problems since 2016. In the experience of senior specialist therapist Anthony Marini, crypto problems often emerge later for those who come to deal with alcohol or drug abuse.
Marini describes a “crypto curve,” which traces an arc from “highly fulfilling” trading to eventual dependency. Painful realizations often occur along the way, which can trigger debilitating feelings or even secondary addictions. His solution, similar to Alcoholics Anonymous’ 12-step-program, utilizes a gradual tempering of usage, with an ultimate pursuit for a healthier source of fulfillment.
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